Anonymous asked in Science & MathematicsPhysics · 5 months ago

Can protons and electrons exist outside the atom? When the electrons and protons get separated during thunderstorms, are they within atoms?

When there is a thunderstorm and the cloud gets charged, are there atoms in the clouds, are the atoms the ones that get separated, or is it just the electrical charges we call electrons and protons without atoms? When there is an electric flow of charges, is it without the atom or with the atom?

10 Answers

  • 5 months ago

    In a particle accelerator Protons of H are loaded with electrons, accelerated to nearly C, the electrons are stripped off and the proton smashes into the target.

    Electricity is a form of free electrons moving from atom to atom within the conductor.

  • 5 months ago

    In a thunderstorm cloud, you're extremely unlikely to encounter free protons (or electrons). What you get is that some of the molecules (that themselves will be assembled into water droplets) in there will gain an additional electron, making them negativel charged, while those that have lost them will be remain with a positive charge.

    Only when the lightning discharges you will get free electrons and highly charged atoms, making up the plasma of the lightning.

    Electric flow is even more complicated - in a lightning discharge, it's in the plasma. In a solid (like a conducting wire), it's electrons - but not free electrons. Basically, all the atoms in that wire together share a pool of so-called conduction electrons that can move more or less freely throughout the wire. So conductivity in a solid is more of a property of the solid as one of the individual atoms - those contribute by having losely bound outer shell electrons, though.

  • 5 months ago

    They can in a Plasma

    Such as the Sun

    Attachment image
  • 5 months ago

    A beta particle is an electron outside an atom.

    In a cathode ray tube the "cathode rays" are a stream of pure electrons in a vacuum.

    Inside a material "conduction electrons" are electrons that are not bound to any particular atom.

    They can move freely.

    Separate protons are a lot less likely. They tend to bind with other nucleii.

    If you consider the enormous energy gained by binding two deuterium nucleii together ( fusion) you could see how difficult it is to separate them again.

    However HYDROGEN has a single proton and a single electron. If you ionize hydrogen by removing that electron then what is left is the isolated proton.

    This exists within the hydrogen discharge tube. Where moderate volts can separate the hydrogen, ionizing it, and then you get the spectral lines ( Balmer, Lyman etc series ) as the electrons recombine with protons.

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  • 5 months ago

    Yes, electrons nd protons can and do exist independent of atoms. It is called a plasma. That is what the solar wind is. So is the corona.

  • 5 months ago

    Yes they can exist outside the atom. At the LCD in CERN they strip hydrogen atoms of their electron and result in bare protons. Then they use the protons as the accelerated particles in the collider.

    The electrons flowing in your electric wires that light up your house and desktop are so-called free electrons. That are not attached to atoms at all. They make up the current we measure in amperes.

    Lightening is produced when the air molecules between the cloud bottoms and the ground become ionized. Which is to say the air atoms lose electrons causing them to become ions with a positive charge.

    Those ions make the air into a conductor and that's when an enormous flow of free electrons that have gathered along the bottom of the clouds is suddenly discharged and a huge current flows into the ground below. That current heats up the surrounding air and causes it to glow, which we see as a lightening bolt.

    Note, there is no ionization of the cloud molecules or atoms; the water in clouds remains water vapor. It's free electrons that have gathered at the bottom of those clouds that become the lightening.

    As the free electrons gather at the bottom of the clouds, that area emits a negative electronic field. And that field pushes on the free electrons in the ground below the clouds. And those electrons drift away from the area. So that creates a positive field.

    The voltage between the clouds and the ground reaches into the millions of volts. And that's what drives the current we call lightening.

  • Dixon
    Lv 7
    5 months ago

    Yes. Atoms can emit electrons and become charged ions. The old style TV and indeed all thermionic valves (tubes) worked via an electron beam. A proton is the same as thing a hydrogen atom that has lost an electron.

  • Mark
    Lv 7
    5 months ago

    Yes. they're called "ions". Look it up. Also, the fission process breaks up atoms.

    • Zirp
      Lv 7
      5 months agoReport

      electrons aren't called ions

      protons can be called hydrogen-ions, other positive ions are not protons

  • Anonymous
    5 months ago

    Yes. Electricity is electrons.

  • Marduk
    Lv 7
    5 months ago

    I believe Protons are Alpha particles and Electrons are Beta particles from radioactive materials. You can google it, I'm not that interested in doing it for you.

    • oldprof
      Lv 7
      5 months agoReport

      Alpha particles consists of two protons and two neutrons bonded. They are often thought of as helium ions because the 2p + 2n core is like the helium nucleus.

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